The ancient mud citadel of Atturaif perched on a high hill overlooking the Wadi Hanifah valley for about 300 years before becoming the capital of the first Saudi dynasty in the 18th century. The capital moved to nearby Riyadh when the Ottomans invaded, and over the years, Atturaif’s distinctively Arabian architecture fell into the ruins of the city of Ad Diriyah. In 2010, an ambitious effort was mounted to restore Atturaif, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and turn it into a major tourist attraction showcasing the region’s history and culture.
The result is the Atturaif Living Museum with an outdoor amphitheater situated to allow projections about the site’s key role in the country’s long story onto the old walls. Delivering clear sound to accompany the projections to an audience situated across the large open space with Renkus-Heinz loudspeakers, installed by Robert Cole of Automation Control Energy.
“The biggest challenge was the huge area and the distances between the sound system and the public,” points out Norbert Bau, Renkus-Heinz Middle East sales representative, “but as you would expect at a World Heritage site, there also is a particular need for impressively loud and clear sound.”
Naturally, cosmetics are important in a restored historic site, too. “There are architectural restrictions on what we can do here,” Bau admits, “and the system needs to be as invisible as possible and not interfere with the projection.”
The Living Museum installed left and right arrays of five Renkus-Heinz STLA/9R line array loudspeaker systems per side, which play to the wide margins of the space. The STLA/9R maximizes its output with dual CDT1.5 CoEntrant mid/high drivers and maintains constant directivity down to 200 Hz using Renkus-Heinz’s exclusive Isophasic Plane Wave Generator technology. STLA/9R loudspeakers are RHAON-empowered for flexible analog and digital signal distribution, as well as loudspeaker management and control over an Ethernet network.
Sub-lows are handled by three Renkus-Heinz DR18-2R self-powered, direct radiating subwoofers per side. The DR18-2R has dual 18-inch drivers and ranges from 32 to 120 Hz, and each enclosure can deliver up to 133 dB SPL program power (135 dB SPL peak).
The center section of the amphitheater is covered by three ST9-44 three-way mid/high loudspeaker systems. The ST9-44 is an unpowered loudspeaker that features Renkus-Heinz’s Complex Conic horns, which produce low-distortion reproduction for natural-sounding music and intelligible speech, and has the muscle to produce peak output levels up to 142 dB SPL.
“It’s a large area to cover, both broad and deep. We have to project sound a long way, yet retain intelligibility over the full distance and try to keep reflections down,” Bau details. “Renkus-Heinz offered us an elegant solution, with line arrays for pattern control over the broad shoulders of the venue and ST9-44AS three-way speakers, which have a tight 40 x 40 coverage area and a lot of power, to fill the center all the way back.”
On each side of the venue, a single, low-profile Renkus-Heinz ICL-F-RN digitally steerable line array loudspeaker is installed in a surround position to provide additional rear fill or surround channels. Part of the IC Live Gen5 series, the ICL-F-RN lets you define up to four steerable beams, each with a different opening angle. The Living Museum also appreciated how unobtrusive the ICL-F-RN’s slim cabinet is.
The amphitheater is the primary presentation area in the Living Museum but not the only one. Six Renkus-Heinz ICL-F-DUAL-RN digitally steerable loudspeakers are deployed in other zones to support outdoor video projections. The ICL-F-DUAL-RN’s extended height (95 inches/241.5 cm) enables it to throw a controlled beam of sound up to 160 feet (50 meters), enabling one or two loudspeakers to cover one of the smaller areas.
“Fidelity and intelligibility are tricky to attain in an ancient ruin, even one that has been restored,” muses Bau. “I really have to thank Renkus-Heinz’s support staff, who were instrumental in our getting the system right.”
With the restoration of Atturaif and plantings of more than 14,000 indigenous trees and shrubs and 350 palm trees, Ad Diriyah is rising from its ruins to reclaim an important legacy in Saudi culture. “There are amazing stories in this place,” marvels Bau, “and with this Renkus-Heinz system, I feel confident visitors will hear and understand every word of every story when it is told.”